We use cookies to improve your experience online. By using our website, you agree to the use of cookies as described in our cookies policy.

‘Picasso and Paper’ tickets are sold out for Friends and the public. Sign up to our newsletter to hear when more tickets are made available.

, Memorandum from James Barry to the Council

As one material intention in the institution of
our Annual Exhibition must have been to give the
Exhibitors that comparative rank & consequence
that their abilities entitle them to; and as there
have been frequent dissatisfactions & complaints
with respect to the disposition often adopted in
aranging the Pictures &c the following motion
is submitted to the judgment of the Academy the
Academy by James Barry.
That all Pictures whatever exceeding
the height of a half length be placed above the line.
That on the day when judgment is
passed on the Pictures to be retained for Exhibition
or to be rejected, all the Academicians shall have
the liberty of being present; and that the rejection
of such works as are offered for Exhibition does
depend upon the majority of the votes of such
Academicians as chuse to attend & to give their
votes on this occasion.
That all the Academicians, or such as
chuse it, may be permitted to draw lots for the Choice
of a situation for one work. The first distribution
being marked out on the wall, they proceed to a
second & after (if thought proper) to a third
distribution in the same manner.
That all the works of the Academicians
except the before mentioned, & of all the other
Exhibitors be left (as they have hitherto been) to the

, Memorandum from James Barry to the Council

discretion of the Council to place them where they may
think most proper.
If it should be thought proper the benefits
of this plan might be even still further extended to
those of our Exhibition who are not Academicians.
The Authors of such works of Art as the majority of
the Council, or the majority of the Academy may deem
worthy of it, shall be invited by letter, if residing in
Town, or if at a distance some person of the
Academy shall be appointed for them, to draw lots
for the choice of places at the same time with the
It is apprehended that many good
consequences may be derived from this method, & that
many objections which lie against the present
practice will be in great measure removed by it:
as in the first place, each Academician will have
no reason to think himself unfairly dealt with in at
least two or three situations (whichever is fixes upon).
2dly every History, Portrait, Landscape or other
Painter may chance to have an opportunity of situating
himself (if he chuses it) in the neighbourhood of some
other in his own walk, so as to afford both to himself
& to the publick a fair view of his comparative
excellence or deficiency.
3dly There being four Officers of the Academy,
to wit the the President, Secretary, Treasurer & the Keeper
who as a part of their office have also a care in the
disposition of the Pictures &c in the Exhibition. Three
of these Gentlemen being permanent in their office, they
are of course according to the present practice the
principal & permanent Agents in the hanging of

pictures &c in the Exhibition. This has been a source
of much inquietude, & the situation of those Gentlemen
in this instance, must be as undesirable to themselves
as it is offensive to others; dissatisfied people will
always take this occasion of calling their judgment
or their integrity into question, and good men would
wish to remove themselves from the very shadow of any
suspicions injurious to their Character. Besides if
in future times the successors of the present
Gentlemen who so worthily fill those offices, should
from interested or other views have any improper
partialities for or prejudices against any particular
Academician, & should they confederate for such
dishonest purpose, by passing the present motion
into a Law, such confederacy would be rendered
inefectual; and the Exhibition will remain as it
ought, a field of Generous Contention, established
upon equitable principles, & where Envy, Pique
or any other unjust, base motive (that might
hereafter arise amongst us, & that have always
arisen amongst men where their Passions &
interests are concerned) will have no opportunity
of exerting themselves with any success.

, Memorandum from James Barry to the Council

Mr Barry’s
Proposal & Plan
for Arranging
The Exhibition

Entd in the Minutes
30th Decembr 1775

Memorandum from James Barry to the Council

RA Collection: Archive

Reference code



Memorandum from James Barry to the Council


30 Dec 1775



Extent & medium


Previous reference codes

B VII 1, 1041 (members' files)

Historical Background

The proposals were submitted to Council on 30 December 1775, and entered in full in the minutes.

Content Description

Memorandum to the Council from James Barry containing proposals for the arrangement of the exhibition: all pictures exceeding the height of half a length to be placed above the line; all Academicians to have the right to vote on the selection of works submitted for exhibition; all Academicians to be permitted to draw lots to choose a position for one work; the Council to decide on the placing of all other works, and, if thought proper, non-Academicians also to be eligible to participate in the drawing of lots for choice of position. The memorandum concludes with a justification of the proposals, including the fact that the three permanent officers of the Academy, being the "principal and permanent agents in the hanging of pictures", would be thus relieved of any suspicion of "improper partialities or prejudices against any particular Academician".